A GOLDEN FURY
By: Samantha Cohoe
Published By: Wednesday Books
Release Date: October 13, 2020
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Reading Level: Young Adult
Buy the Book: Macmillan
Goodreads Summary: Thea Hope longs to be an alchemist out of the shadow of her famous mother. The two of them are close to creating the legendary Philosopher’s Stone—whose properties include immortality and can turn any metal into gold—but just when the promise of the Stone’s riches is in their grasp, Thea’s mother destroys the Stone in a sudden fit of violent madness.
While combing through her mother’s notes, Thea learns that there’s a curse on the Stone that causes anyone who tries to make it to lose their sanity. With the threat of the French Revolution looming, Thea is sent to Oxford for her safety, to live with the father who doesn’t know she exists.
But in Oxford, there are alchemists after the Stone who don’t believe Thea’s warning about the curse—instead, they’ll stop at nothing to steal Thea’s knowledge of how to create the Stone. But Thea can only run for so long, and soon she will have to choose: create the Stone and sacrifice her sanity, or let the people she loves die.
Alchemy is a subject I find fascinating. There are so many things we still do not understand about the world, and sometimes it’s hard not to dream about a touch of magic in everyday life. Who wouldn’t want to have the Philosopher’s Stone? This book explores that exact question.
Thea Hope is an aspiring alchemist living in the shadow of her famous mother, but she dreams of finding her own fame one day. She will uncover the secrets of making the Philosopher’s Stone, reunite with her love Will, and live happily ever after, as the fairy tales say. Only life is not a fairy tale. Her mother is trying to keep the alchemical secrets to herself, and with France on the brink of revolution, Thea will be sent to England for her own safety. Despite staying with a father who never knew she existed, Thea is determined to live out her dreams. However, secrets and betrayals abound, and Thea will have to navigate dangerous waters if she wants to survive, let alone make the stone.
This book drew me in from the very beginning. I loved the premise, and who wouldn’t want to be engrossed in historical France and England? I wanted to learn more about Thea and her mother, and I wanted to see if they would be successful making the stone. I felt Thea’s longing for her one real friend and love, and, of course, the chance of learning alchemical secrets fascinated me. And then all of the action started. The mark of a good book is one that can make you feel strong emotions, and A Golden Fury certainly accomplished this. From wanting to see more of the Comte, to wishing I could reach through the pages and shake a character or two to make them see reason, emotions were definitely high throughout this book.
The magical effects of the stone are felt throughout the book. The further alchemists descend into their work, the less lucid they become. This led to moments of wondering who could be trusted, if the budding romances were motivated by real feelings or by greed (and maybe a touch of Stockholm Syndrome), and it also made me keep turning pages to uncover the truth about all of the characters and see if Thea would prevail despite all the odds. The stakes in this book were certainly high—lose friends, lose sanity, or lose life—and this made for gripping reading.
Unfortunately, for me, the ending of the book did not quite live up to the beginning. There were several fledgling plot lines that never seemed fully realized, and more than once I felt like I was getting whiplash from characters’ behavior. It seemed like the book didn’t quite reach its full potential. I wanted more vivid descriptions, more time to savor building tension, and more of a resolution to the story threads that were started. However, I know other people did not have these issues, so don’t let that stop you from reading this! There were still plenty of enjoyable aspects throughout the book.
Travel through time and enjoy the mystic nature of alchemy. I’ll be interested to see what Samantha Cohoe writes next!
Most Memorable Aspect: The inclusion of research from historical alchemists.
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